Today my youngest son Tom is 25 years old.

Although he lives away, I think of him out there in the world, living his brave and colourful life.

This week my exhibition, Elemental, opens at Wangaratta Art Gallery. My sons will be there, and it’s a marvel how happy that makes me feel. A strange business, being a happy parent. Taming this too enthusiastic joy down to a less embarrassing version of delight when they’re around.

Happy birthday my dear Tom.

Copy of Tom2009

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February anniversaries

February 28, 2013

It’s the end of February. The month of four birthdays and two deathdays.

Today is fabulous Harry’s birthday, and tonight in the split second between today and tomorrow is Martin’s. A very small leap into his next year. This is the first drawing I made of him. I wasn’t looking at the drawing.

Copy of martin flathead

And this one is Dad, who’s anniversary it was last week. He died a long time ago, but recently when I made this drawing I felt the need to mend him. I used to enjoy darning socks like this, on a wooden mushroom.

MendingDad

Nine months on

February 8, 2013

Well it’s been a while but it’s time to begin this story again. The stumbling block was a silly mistake of mine – I accidentally deleted most of the images off this blog, and realising the enormity of the task of reposting them, I ignored the whole thing for as long as I could. Over the next little while all or most will be restored.

Ch_pregnant2_small
In the meantime, here is a taste of things people to come. There are many babies arriving in my world, recently and soon. This mum is very keen to meet her babe sooner rather than later.

Ch_pregnant1_small

Time and distance

April 13, 2010

I’m off to visit Mum tomorrow. When I stay for a few days we settle into an easy companionship, having slipped through the time and distance that hardens like wax between us.

Copy of wax vases 1I’ll draw some more objects from her life. And maybe some quiet moments from her face, hands, movements – as I’ve done before. And record stories as she tells them.

mumwatchinginsprex1(Is there a recording somewhere out there of Dad singing?) It’s good to have these stories from Mum – the sound of her contralto voice and girlish laugh while she remembers.

Soft steady rain

April 6, 2010

In Dutch there are many words for rain. The cousin who told me that, didn’t tell me what they are, so I’m left to imagine. Rain, shower, sheet, drips, plips, drumming, rushing, drift, spots, curtain, wet, buckets. In English,  ‘rain’ is added to the end of a description – driving rain, pouring rain, heavy rain, soft rain, soaking rain.

My father’s birthday has just passed. It’s raining, as it did when he was buried. When I first began work in my current studio, he came to mind – my first creative ally. I made a series of small drawings in watercolour – quietly weaving patterns like the ones he wove on the loom that he made.

Copy of dot weave 2It was the seventies. Mum was a spinner and she knitted and crocheted. Still does. Dad loved the sheep, the wool, the shearing. Together they went searching for plants and bark to boil up dyes and then made things with the freshly spun and dyed wool.

Hands ought to be productive. And if beautiful things come from it, all the better for the world.

Sensory input

April 4, 2010

My father was a musician. My earliest memory is of lying against his chest feeling comforted by the vibration of his voice – warm baritone hum. I also remember his voice when it filled the house and either thrilled or scared me. And the long hours I spent immersed in the smells and sounds of his wood-work shed.

My mother worked long each day to run the household. I remember the fabric of her coats, her apron, the doilies we crocheted together, the vegemite toast she brought me when I was home from school with my annual cold, and the smell of pea and ham soup. And I can see her reading and writing, pulled between the English of her second life and the Dutch of her first.

And many many other things come back as I write.

coats in diary